Americans Love Technology; Also Hate It

Technology has been evolving at an exponential pace ever since the Industrial Revolution, if not earlier. If you feel ambivalent about the impact this has on our lives, you’re not the only one. Two new surveys -- one by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and Bovitz Inc., the other by Harris Interactive -- show that Americans, while enamored of some aspects of technology (including social media) are also quite skeptical about the whole relentless-disorienting-stream-of-change thing.

On the positive side, the USC-Bovitz study found that 74% of respondents agreed that they can accomplish more in less time because of new technologies, and 72% are excited to try new technologies. Meanwhile 45% said they have more time for family and friends because technology enables them to work from anywhere (and 55% said they would rather work remotely than in the office).

But all this comes with a cost, of course: 31% of respondents said technology has made it harder to keep their work and personal lives separate, 26% said they are stressed because they are always on call thanks to technology, and 21% said being accessible via mobile has made their lives more stressful. Interestingly, while Millennials were more likely to report benefiting from technology, they were also more likely to report negative impacts, including stress from mixing their personal and work lives.

Moving on to the Harris Poll, more Americans say they find technology too distracting (69% in 2013, up from 65% in 2012) and fewer say they find it has improved the overall quality of their lives (71% in 2013, down from 78% in 2012). Likewise, the proportion saying technology enhances their social lives slipped from 56% to 52% over the same period, and the proportion who say it has improved their relationships with their family decreased from 43% to 39%.

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